Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What A Load Of Bullocks

This Is The Slow Lane On The Highway

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON


For someone like me, being back in India is like returning to the comforting embrace of an old favourite blanket. It smells familiar. It feels familiar. Its rustle is familiar. I slip into it instantly. I revel in it. This country is where life began for me. This is where I was blessed with an education and an upbringing to cherish as long as I live.

I come here now - as I have several times in the past twenty years - with an Australian passport and a neutral accent that I call a "United Nations accent" because it is hard to place and has inflections that hint of a global upbringing. I come here with an open heart and an open mind. I revel in returning to this wonderful country.

This photograph was taken on Sunday morning, along the narrow two-lane highway from the Indian capital, New Delhi, to the hill town of Dehra Dun in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh state. It is a slow procession of bullock carts, impossibly laden but proceeding with stately elegance and steady pace (if you can call it pace) up from the vast historic plains where the three battles of Panipat were fought, centuries ago.

As a child, I was fortunate to make many road trips across this land. But this journey is somehow symbolic. Now I am a novelist and I am a photographer. Now I am in a part of the country where I have never been before. Now it is my pleasure to chronicle the Garhwal hills and to capture the sights that caught my attention as a schoolboy. This slow, creaking convoy is one of thousands, every day, every week, every month. This photograph salutes all the bullock-cart drivers who take their cargo wherever it is required. This image is my salute to them.

17 comments:

imac said...

Nice shot David.
Reminds me when I was in Spain many years ago, There was this chappie driving a cart which was full of pots, all different sizes too.

Lee said...

Lovely view of another culture, David! Thanks for sharing it. I looked up bullocks and it didn't come out as anything that looked like a load of kindling wood. In fact it meant young or castrated steer. What does the term imply in relation to the carts?

Merry Christmas!

lime said...

and what a marvelous salute it is.

dot said...

A beautiful post and picture of a sight I'll never see except through your pictures. There is always something special about the place where you grew up. Unfortunately mine has changed so much it's hardly recognizable.

Janice Thomson said...

How wonderful to visit and embrace again the culture that was yours as a child. The memories must be fantastic as well as perhaps wistful and haunting. The love of the land and culture shines bright in your delightful salute to India.

Suzi-k said...

Wonderful evocative picture, have a fun trip!

Craver Vii said...

I wish I could visit!

Corey~living and loving said...

what an interesting thing...so see it with different eyes...or to just capture it as you remember it. all in all...just looking at it in a more thoughtful sort of way.

Bart said...

Buncha fagots.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing that David. When we returned to England a few years ago we were disappointed. Nothing was the same, although why should it be, they call it progress I suppose. Everything seemed so tawdry and dirty, maybe we hadn't noticed before.

Cariboo Ponderer

David said...

It must be very different to travel on a "highway" as slow as that. You wouldn't be worrying about getting there within 20 minutes! There are some great benefits in a culture that is not so rushed as our current Western one.

Amrita said...

Welcome to India David. I lived in Mussoorie for 4 years as I taught in WOodstock Scool. Met Ruskin Bond there

Amrita said...

BTW I don 't understand Bart 's comment.Are Indians a buncha fagots?

indicaspecies said...

What a poignant post!

The picture is lovely, and I am just about back having enjoyed such cool sights!

Tammy said...

What big animals! It must be very heavy to pull those.

Indrani said...

Each sentence reflects your love and affection for India, I am touched David by your salute to the simple bullock cart drivers, who toil hard to make both ends meet.

Lavinia said...

THis is beautiful. I'm very glad that scenes like this still exist in the world. So picturesque.

I wish I could see this in my own neighbourhood.